I was reading over the following verse:
They do blaspheme who say: “God is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! Worship God, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with God, God will forbid him the Garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help. They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them. (Surah 5:72-3)
My question is that do these verses not directly implicate Christians to hell? Essentially it seems as though the belief in the trinity or Hadhrat Isa in the capacity of the son of God makes them destined to hell? However, then the verse in Surah 2:62 confuses me because it states that they may be in paradise as well.
Could you clarify?
It should be clearly understood that the context and the words of the referred verse have nothing to do with the determination of the destiny of Christians, in particular, in the life hereafter. A close look at the verse shall show that the real subject, context and implication of the said verse is to clarify that holding Jesus as the son of God or believing in trinity is a blasphemy which was never taught by Jesus (pbuh) himself. The verse clearly tells that both these beliefs, according to the Qur’an, are polytheistic in their nature. And that whoever knowingly ascribes to polytheism or holds other gods to be partners of God – the one God – shall be thrown in hellfire.
The message in these verses is that the Christian belief of God having a son or that of trinity is not something that was ordained by God through any of His prophets or messengers, not even Jesus (pbuh). It also tells us that the polytheists or those who hold partners with God, shall be destined to hellfire. But as is inherent in all punishments mentioned in the Qur’an with reference to the hereafter, only those people shall be subjected to these punishments who commit these crimes, knowingly. God, in His infinite mercy, shall forgive the mistakes of His servants. Thus, only those people – whether Christians, Jews, Muslims or ascribing to any other religion – shall deserve the punishment of hellfire, who ascribe to a particular polytheistic belief not because of any mistake or misunderstanding but with full knowledge of the fact that it is a polytheistic belief.
According to the Qur’an, the case of the Christians and the Jews of the times of the Prophet (pbuh) was a special one in this respect. God, through His Messenger had removed all doubts and all chances of error and mistake from their minds regarding what is right and what is wrong. The Jews and Christians of the time and place of the Prophet (pbuh) rejected faith knowing that they are rejecting the truth and accepted infidelity knowing that what they were accepting was nothing but falsehood. Such are the people, who according to the Qur’an deserve the everlasting punishment of hellfire.
But as we know, the case of the Jews and the Christians of our times is not exactly the same as that of those who lived during the time and place of the Prophet (pbuh). These Jews and Christians, like many Muslims, may ascribe to a particular polytheistic belief without complete knowledge of it being a polytheistic belief. This could be due to a philosophical mistake or an error in interpretation. Such errors and mistakes do not make a person a criminal or an infidel in the eyes of God. A criminal or an infidel, in the eyes of God, according to the Qur’an is a person who commits a crime knowing fully well that it is a crime in the eyes of his Lord or who ascribes to a blasphemous belief with full knowledge of it being a blasphemy in the sight of God.
It is, therefore, my opinion that we cannot decide about the fate of the present day people – whether they be Jews, Christians or Muslims – in the hereafter. Those among them who sincerely tried to search for and follow the truth in this life shall be rewarded for their efforts and sincerity with God whether they were known to the world as Jews, Christians or Muslims. While those who lived their lives in prejudices and biases and knowingly rejected the truth or behaved indifferently toward the call of their Lord shall deserve the penalty of hellfire, even though they were known to the world as Muslims or Christians or Jews.
31st March 1999